House members make changes, but leave enough money alone to pay for their billion dollar tax cut as they advance a bill dividing federal economic stimulus money.
The capital improvement bill spends nearly $400 million in federal money the first year; $158 million the second.
The process used, not the projects funded, infuriated the top Democrat in the House, Paul LeVota of Independence, who was still smoldering about how House Republicans by-passed the Budget Committee to rush the bill to the floor, claiming that created mistakes in the bill.
LeVota asserted again that House Speaker Ron Richard (R-Joplin) violated House rules by assigning HB 22 to the Rules Committee, by-passing the House Budget Committee. When a problem arose, LeVota latched on to the problem stating that it disclosed the problem with the method used. He claimed the Budget Committee would have caught the problem it came to the floor.
House Budget Committee Chairman Allen Icet (R-Wildwood) defended the method in an interview with the Missourinet, pointing out that budget bills now move to the Senate with the clock ticking toward the deadline next Friday.
"Had we gone through the Budget Committee, it would have chewed up at least one, if not two additional days," Icet said. "We were literally out of time to make this work"
One major change was made during floor debate. House members divided up $50 million that had been allocated for a new office building in Jefferson City. The money was allocated to various projects; $10 million was set aside for a highway interchange in Jefferson City, $4.23 million for a DNA testing lab in Kirksville, $2.5 million for a plant science facility in Mexico, among other projects. The House restored $31 million the Rules Committee had stripped from the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia after Democrats had walked out of the committee meeting. In another move during floor debate, $12 million dollars was taken from a fund to pay ethanol plant incentives and given to aid the financially strapped Metro transit system in St. Louis.
The bill needs one more positive vote to move to the Senate.